Jul 20, 2021
NRF shares June retail sales increase in most categories

Retail sales saw solid growth during June, increasing in most categories on a monthly basis and across the board on a yearly basis as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continued, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

“Continued growth in June retail sales shows enduring strength in the American consumer,” Matthew Shay, president for NRF. “Heading into the back-to-school season, we expect record sales as families purchase electronics, shoes and backpacks for in-person learning this year. However, as the drop in monthly auto sales indicates, retailers are facing product shortages and supply chain constraints. We urge Congress and the administration to enact meaningful, bipartisan infrastructure legislation that is critical for retailers who depend on a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system to drive further economic growth.”

“We’re continuing to see an impressive recovery,” Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for NRF said. “The economy and consumption are particularly sensitive to government policy, and the boost we saw from government support earlier in the year is continuing to show benefits. Reopening of both stores and the overall economy has progressed, and even higher prices seen in some retail categories reflecting the push-and-pull of supply chain challenges haven’t proven to be a deterrent to spending. As more people get vaccinated and get out, some of the growth will shift to services rather than retail but there’s enough momentum to support both.”

The U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales in June were up 0.6% seasonally adjusted from May and up 18% year-over-year. That compares with a decrease of 1.7% month-over-month and an increase of 27.6% year-over-year in May. Year-over-year increases were unusually high this spring because most stores were closed by the pandemic during those months last year, but some stores had started to reopen by last June. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to Census data.

NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed June was up 0.8% seasonally adjusted from May and up 12.1% unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with a month-over-month decline of 1.9% and a year-over-year increase of 16.5% in May. NRF’s numbers were up 19.3% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

Sales saw a boost from the annual Amazon Prime Day promotion, which was also joined by many other major retailers. Record-high temperatures in some parts of the country and tropical storms in others may have affected sales, and methodology the Census Bureau uses to adjust results for seasonal variations may have affected the numbers reported by the agency.

For the first six months of the year, sales were up 16.4% over the same period in 2020. With the rate of growth expected to slow in the second half of the year, that is consistent with NRF’s revised forecast that 2021 retail sales should grow between 10.5% and 13.5% over 2020 to between $4.44 trillion and $4.56 trillion. As with NRF’s monthly calculation, the forecast excludes auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants.

June Sales Highlights

June sales were up year-over-year across the board, led by increases at clothing, electronics and furniture stores, and also up in two-third of retail categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key retail sectors include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 2.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 49.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 3.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 36.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 3.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 17.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 13.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 12% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 1.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 11% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 1.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 10.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 1.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 3.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

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